Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure out to restore Aaron Nola's confidence

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MINNEAPOLIS — Prized Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola has encountered the first extended patch of turbulence in his young big-league career.
 
Pitching coach Bob McClure is leading a group effort to get the right-hander back on track.
 
The process will include the typical film study and work in the bullpen as McClure attempts to pinpoint and fix what he believes is just a minor mechanical flaw in Nola’s delivery.
 
It will also include something a little more subtle, but very important, just the same.
 
When a promising young pitcher struggles, a pitching coach turns into a psychologist, a counselor, a builder of that magic sports elixir known as confidence.
 
“For me, sports is all about confidence,” McClure said Wednesday evening. “I’m not saying we won’t look at some mechanical things. But basically, it's just getting him back to where he’s confident and convicted. That is the No. 1 thing.
 
“I’ve seen them all go through it. I’ve seen [Zack] Greinke go through it. Jon Lester. It usually doesn’t last long.
 
“You hate to see them go through it. You have to stay behind them. It's just like raising your kids. Everyone is punching holes in their bucket of steam. Our job is to plug those holes.
 
“I am concerned [about Nola’s recent struggles], but not overly concerned because he's just too good. He'll work his way through it.” 
 
Nola, who turned 23 earlier this month, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2014. He made it to the majors after just 13 months in pro ball. He was a model of consistency, fastball command and poise in the first 25 starts of his big-league career. He recorded a 3.12 ERA over the span.
 
But Nola has struggled mightily in his last three starts, not getting out of the fourth inning in any of them. Tuesday night against the Twins, he let two leads get away under the weight of two four-run innings. He was out after three innings.
 
Over his last three starts, Nola has given up 22 hits, seven walks and 17 earned runs in just 9 2/3 innings. His ERA has climbed from 2.65 to 4.11 in that span.
 
After Tuesday night’s game, Nola mentioned that he sensed he was rushing his delivery. Manager Pete Mackanin theorized that Nola’s signature command had abandoned him because he was overthrowing.
 
McClure sensed both of those flaws and added that Nola might be getting under the baseball instead of staying on top of it during his release. All of the issues will be addressed — and more.
 
“I think he's putting a little pressure on himself to be so good all the time that I think it's carrying into commanding the baseball,” McClure said. “Maybe he’s trying to be too fine, maybe he’s second-guessing himself a little bit. Overthrowing, yes, definitely.
 
“It's just a period where he is trying to do too much. You get hit around a little bit. You start second-guessing yourself a little bit. You just kind of lose yourself a little. We've all been through it. It's a tough thing to fight through. You just have to get back to conviction and confidence in every pitch you throw. Don't worry about the results.
 
"I don't want to make more of it than it is, is what I'm trying to say. I've seen it happen too many times to everybody. He’ll work his way through this.”

Nola's next start will be Sunday at San Francisco.

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